612 THE IRON" INDUSTRY.
import quite a considerable proportion of their total production, while the United States imports a very small percentage. Singularly enough, the nations that import the greatest proportion also export the greatest, for England exports one-third of her finished iron and steel, and Belgium nearly one-half of her output. The United States up to the present time has shipped away only a small proportion of her output, but in 1900 it reached 13 per cent, of the total.
This comparison gives some idea of the character of the business of these nations, but it does not convey any definite informa* tion about the extent to which these nations influence the commerce of the world. Thus, although the United States sent abroad only a small' proportion of her products, the actual tonnage so exported in 1900 was nearly three times the over-sea shipments of Belgium, although the latter nation sent nearly half of her products to other countries. The overshadowing factors in over-sea commerce are Great Britain, Germany and the United States. Other nations play a small part in the general international iron trade.
There are some people who may look for a table giving the rate of wages in each country, and possibly it would please my political friends to have figures tabulated to prove some tariff theories. It would be easy to give statistics on either side. From personal knowledge I could quote the earnings of boiler-makers in free-trade England at over $7 per clay and the wages of skilled rolling-mill men at $1.50 in protectionist Germany and Austria. It is well known to manufacturers and employers of labor that the information collected by our Government is hardly worth the trouble of printing, but statisticians are constantly quoting the records for want of better information. The weak points are recognized by the Department itself, but there are difficulties in the way of obtaining data. Thus it is of little use to record that the wages of bricklayers are $5 per day in a certain city and only $2.50 in a certain town, for it is quite probable that in the city the work is intermittent, made up of short jobs interrupted by weather, so that from inclement days and intervals between jobs, the annual earnings will be no more than in the town where perhaps a steel works offers steady work under shelter in rough weather throughout the whole year, and where the rent and cost of living is less than in the greater community. It is also,of little value to give the aver-